One of the hot button issues across the country, but especially in New England, right now is flood insurance. The federal program is deeply in debt, thanks to record payouts after devastating storms like Katrina and Sandy. Congress passed legislation in 2012 to eliminate many subsidies and raise rates, but the backlash has been severe and President Obama just signed new legislation that is designed to ease the pain for a while.  However, if you live in a flood plain and subscribe to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), your rates will be going up, if not now then shortly. This will certainly be painful for many homeowners, but in a way it’s necessary. There’s a case for not subsidizing the risk of living in a flood plain.

Another issue is that FEMA has redrawn the flood maps that determine who does and doesn’t live in a flood plain, and who is subject to the federal program’s constraints.  The areas are getting larger.  And with climate change, they may get larger still.

As we face this new reality, there are scenarios coming from the Chronofacts that show us options. Floating houses. Hover Homes. But there are also scenarios where the water wins. Bridge crossings. Broken technology.

Whatever our futures hold, we would be wise to remember the old saying: no matter how high a bird flies, it has to come down for water.

 

 

Advertisements

This one struck too close to home.

Despite being raised vegetarian/vegan, I became a pescetarian in college.  Paul, my husband, is what he calls “a committed omnivore” and we have had more than one passionate debate about the food we consumed.  This was our compromise. I would add fish/seafood, he would give up red meat and poultry.  And despite the occasional lapse at a burger restaurant, it’s a lifestyle that has suited us, and then our girls, fairly well.

I have a confession to make.  I adore lobster.  You’d think the veggie girl would have the most issues with a critter who is cooked by being plunged live into boiling water, and at first I did balk at the idea.  Then Paul showed me how he humanely killed “the sea cockroaches” before dipping them in their final bath. I think it was his plan all along to shock me with the most graphic element of my new diet, instead of gently easing me into a plate of fish sticks, or a bowl of clam chowder. Maybe it was all that butter, or the fact that it kind of had a texture like firm tofu, but I found it heavenly sweet and delicious.

Yet now I find myself questioning my choices again, faced as I am with some glimpse to come from this voicemail we just decoded:

Boston 2059

The lobsters are almost gone.  What I’ve learned to love as a treat will, in some possible future, become a rare relic, a leftover icon of a much more diverse ocean than the one this future will get.  Of all the possible futures, this one is more upsetting to me, because I see evidence all around me that this is one of the real, true possibilities we face. Extinction. Loss of ocean habitat. A sea boiled to the point where we may not be able to continue our current commercial fishing practices. Our lives will change. The imperative is how we will respond and adapt.

The immature, selfish part of me is wailing that lobsters should be dinner, not museum exhibits. The more mature me is dusting off her old, dog-eared copy of the Moosewood Cookbook and joining the local CSA in the spring. The choices we make matter.  I can’t decide for anyone else, but I can control my own actions.  It starts here. We need to save the planet.  Come along, or get out of the way.

“Displacement” as a theme has been cropping up more and more. We have heard about how rising waters are displacing some people, while a lack of water has others scrambling.

Currently, California is facing its largest, perhaps most devastating drought in years, turning once green fertile farm lands into vast brown arid patches.

SierraNevada_tmo_2014018_lrg

This particularly hurts farmers, which in turn hurts workers and affects food supplies and prices.  Be prepared to pay more for your produce this year.

In the future, we could be faced with even more terrain changes. This report from a place called “Burnt Creek” talks about jojoba, mesquite bosques and desertification.

Burnt Creek 2041

I’m not certain this is the same place mentioned in the voicemail, but there is a Burnt Creek in North Dakota that is currently a lush area near the Missouri River that’s prone to flooding.

How do we get from today’s Burnt Creek to the Burnt Creek of 2041? Is there any way to prevent it?

Billy Dan lives in Texas and runs our Facebook page. He’s kind of quiet at first, but once you get to know him he’s downright chatty!  😉

Seriously though, I’ve been talking to Billy Dan recently about the water crisis in his state. We’ve heard the voicemails that talk about water shortages in the future, and we know it’s only going to get worse. This is just one of those messages, and that date is a bit concerning. That’s only six years from now!

2020 Unknown

Brownouts and power shortages are already happening globally, and there’s actually some danger in Billy Dan’s state as well. He’s a good man to stay in touch with, as we explore these messages from possible futures, and wait for the next Chronofall in just a few weeks!

Alex lives in…Illinois? Indiana?  I always get those fly-over states mixed up.  😉 She keeps the FutureCoast tumblr running, and manages to raise 2 children and a run an antique store business in her “spare” time. Working moms FTW!

Alex and I talk on the phone more than we communicate online. We’ve become pretty close these last two months due to those calls, and our discussions cover more than just the latest cryptic comment from pKnot or Alex’s seemingly supernatural ability to tweak the chronofact decoder.  We talk about our kids, our career paths (and lack thereof), and our hopes for the future. We’ve even exchanged a few recipes! Without the twins around, I find myself tinkering in the kitchen a bit more, trying things I’ve never really had the time to play with before, like baking bread. I’m just happy I can use a real oven, and not have to resort to some modified cooking surface:

2024 The Lobby

Although, if I had to I could probably make do too.

Sitting here with the girls and Paul, happy to have my family all together again and hoping everyone out there is enjoying their day too, whatever you’re doing.

We all remember Super Storm Sandy. Now imagine a whole season of Sandys. What a relief it must be when the power comes back on, and you can once again reach out to family far away and let them know you’re ok. 

2033 New York

Charlie the Poodle

This is our dog, Charlie.  He’s a nine-year old standard poodle, but he’s no fluffy fashion hound.  He chases the cat, and runs through the woods, and plays fetch, and eats raw bones just like any other canine.  He once got in a fight with an Irish Wolfhound and pinned him to the ground (fear not–no blood was spilled; it was all just posturing and dominance). Poodles come in three sizes, standard, miniature and toy, as do some other breeds like the Schnauzer. Apparently, in the future, pandas do too:

2059 Unknown

There are two things that fascinate me about this message. First, that in the future it is apparently ok to keep pandas as pets, but more eyebrow-raising is the idea that there are designer pet pandas.  Modifying companion animals via selective breeding is nothing new, but I wonder what leads us down this particular path. Currently pandas are endangered, protected and rare. What happens to get us to the point where “everyone at school” could have one? Could this be one of the unintended consequences of cloning, or some other future science to replicate these creatures? The designer mutt, the “labradoodle,” was created for a noble reason, but the rush to exploit this designer dog craze led to regrets.

There is no denying that even today, we are facing an extinction crisis. Climate change is going to effect every life, not just the humans. Somehow I doubt there will be designer pet frogs in the future, though.